I asked a photographer I knew and trusted to do a very personal shoot with me.
I wanted to depict in photos what it felt like on the inside to go through maternal mental illness (formerly referred to as postpartum depression).
I'll never forget the exact moment when I was sobbing on the floor of my baby's nursery, wanting to end it all.
I remember promising myself that I wouldn't forget anyone else going through this IF I ever got out of it.
I remember being on the brink. I remember having to hand over my baby to my sisters to save him from the potential danger I posed to him.
I had no love for him. No bond. I resented him and at one point, I considered him a threat to my family.
I remember knowing exactly what it was I was suffering from and still not being able to stop it. It was worse than any other depression I'd ever suffered from before. I was losing my mind.
I remember when I told an acquaintance of mine that I was having dark thoughts about my baby and I didn't know what else to do because the anti-depressants weren't working and HE said, "Sometimes mothers just have to man-up. There's nothing fathers can do for babies."
I remember leaving there and nearly driving my car into a pole. It was the worst thing to hear at the worst time to hear it.
I remember all of these awful, horrific feelings and as Graham Oakley snapped away with his camera nearly 2 years later, I felt them all again.
It brought it all back, if only for a moment.
The photos are not only very personal for me, but they're how I'm fulfilling my promise to myself.
I'm not pretending my ordeal didn't happen just because I'm happy now and I got to the other side of it. I'm not ignoring the HUGE problem that is maternal mental illness in this country and worldwide.
I want everyone to see it. Not just read about it. I want those who don't understand it to be able to visualize the pain. And if they help you understand or even drum up some empathy for someone you love who has also suffered from it, then they did their job.
Mental illness of any kind is worthy of if not understanding, having compassion for. It's dark and always different. It morphs into whatever it has to morph into to survive.
So next time you see someone who might be suffering, don't judge them. Remember these photos.
Ask if you can help. Tell them you're here for them. Tell them it's okay to not be okay and that you happen to know this woman named Laura Diaz who is still around to tell them it does get better.